Not Watching This Weekend

A few years ago back on my old blog, I did an occasional series of posts that ̶s̶h̶a̶m̶e̶l̶e̶s̶s̶l̶y̶ ̶r̶i̶p̶p̶e̶d̶ ̶o̶f̶f̶ ̶T̶V̶ ̶G̶o̶ ̶H̶o̶m̶e̶ carefully parodied various parts of TV, films and politics. Collected here are some of the more amusing ones, along with a entirely new idea too:

(With thanks to Justin McKeating and Jennie Rigg for some of the Twitter conversations that led to these, but please blame only me for the bad bits)

Eggbound

The Pitch: Following a freak accident on a previous mission, inexplicably Irish-accented CIA agent Brendan McPuncherson must now eat a raw egg, crushed in his own hands, every thirty minutes or he will die a slow and agonising death. Now he’s back on the job (and carrying a large amount of eggs in his car) when he discovers some disturbing news. The chief terrorist he thought he killed in his egg-related mission is still alive, and is now planning to kill every chicken in North America in an attempt to gain a twisted revenge on McPuncherson. High-speed chases over cobbled streets, cardboard tray tampering, the world’s highest stakes egg and spoon race, Liam Neeson eating a quite incredible number of eggs and the catchphrase ‘No! Duck eggs don’t work!’ feature in this high-albumen thriller.

Likelihood of this movie actually happening if the Liam Neeson Punching People genre continues: Higher than you’d hope
Likelihood of endless sequels with minor twists and increased punching: Depressingly high
Likelihood of Fox News headlining a discussion ‘Are Our Chickens Safe?’: Pleasingly high

The Empty Chair

The Pitch: The country’s in the middle of an election campaign, and the Prime Minister discovers that his advisers have got it badly wrong. Despite his refusal to participate, broadcasters are still going to go ahead with a leaders’ debate and he’ll be represented merely by an empty chair if he’s not there. Realising he needs to be there, he now has just 90 minutes to get across a gridlocked London, but can’t use any governmental resources. His quest takes him on a bizarre journey across the capital, discovering new truths about himself and his country. Can he avoid the empty chair, and if he gets there, what will we he say?

The Cast:
Prime Minister: David Tennant
Aide who’s a bit sleazy and doesn’t have much to do in the second half of the film: Matthew Horne
Aide who’s very idealistic and about to quit until she sees the human side of her boss: Romola Garai
Adviser played by someone who we clearly only had on set for a few days because he had better things to do: Steve Coogan
Supposedly edgy street kid who never swears or does anything that dangerous: Some poor sod fresh from the Brit School who’ll look back on this as the highlight of their career
Leader of the Opposition: Christopher Eccleston
Leaders of other ill-defined parties: David Mitchell, Olivia Colman
PM’s party enemy who’s somehow hoping to benefit from all this: Rupert Penry-Jones
Antique expert (archive footage): Arthur Negus
Debate moderator: Keeley Hawes
Overly stressed producer: Pip Torrens
Those annoying cameos you expect in any British movie: Danny Dyer, Meera Syal, at least one member of Girls Aloud, Roger Moore, Ken Livingstone, Anne Widdicombe, Jeremy Paxman’s beard
Pointless cameos just to make sure the fanboys watch it: Tom Baker, Sylvester McCoy
Not returning our calls, no matter how desperate we got: Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi

Likelihood of good reviews: Low
Likelihood of anyone abroad understanding 10% of what’s going on: Very low
Likelihood of appearing continually on ITV2 from now until the end of time: High

Helmer

The Pitch: It’s the early days of Twitter, and someone’s had an idea for a parody account. Surely, nothing could be more amusing than a right-wing Tory MEP who continually misunderstands things, gets his facts wrong and continually blusters and insists he’s right regardless? So, our protagonist creates the account, and finds the perfect picture to illustrate it in an illustrated dictionary’s image for ‘harrumph’. The account — called Roger Helmer MEP — begins to pick up an appreciative audience

Soon, though, our protagonist discovers that someone, or something, else is posting to the Twitter account and it’s even more in character than he’s ever managed. Curiously, he also starts to notice references to things that Roger has supposedly done in the news, and gradually he begins to realise that not only has his parody Twitter account developed sentience, it has begun to manifest itself into the real world. Soon, a person claiming to be the real Roger is giving speeches in the European Parliament and having an impact in politics, culminating in him breaking free of his creator by defecting from the Tories to UKIP (which, the film implies, may be yet another parody that’s gone too far). Now completely free of his creator’s control, can anything stop Roger Helmer?

The Cast:
Roger Helmer: A CGIed version of Geoffrey Palmer from Fairly Secret Army
Roger’s creator: Craig Roberts
Nigel Farage: Chris Morris

Benn: The Movie

The Trailer: Voiceover man begins with ‘some heroes wear many costumes’. The whole trailer is shot through heavy filters, mostly dark and grey just to ensure everyone is clear that this is a Serious Film taking the source material Seriously. As it’s a trailer, we see all the best bits of the film mashed together through hyper-kinetic editing, complete with out of context quotes scattered over them.

We see Mr Benn (Benedict Cumberbatch) in a pinstripe suit and bowler hat, hear the Shopkeeper (Jim Broadbent) give a garbled explanation of how this is a role handed down from generation to generation to protect history and fantasy. There’d be flash cuts of fighting as a knight and as gladiator, doing complicated things as a spaceman and casting magic as a wizard, all shot in glorious Grimdark-Serious-O-Vision.

‘Protecting them from who?’ he asks, and the trailer shows the designated Bad Guy (Matt Smith), possibly interspersed with occasional shots of the Official Love Interest (Sienna Miller), cropping up in various times and places. Then the trailer slows to show us the Big Dramatic Scene.

Mr Benn, in a cowboy outfit celebrating something, when a bloodstained fez rolls across the screen and lands against his feet. He picks it up, looks out and sees the Bad Guy wearing a suit and bowler hat.

“You wore a costume and stepped into my world. Didn’t you realise that I could wear one and step into yours too?”

Another blizzard of disconnected images then the screen goes black. Voiceover Guy: ‘This summer, choose your outfit carefully.’ Graphics tell us MR BENN: THE MOVIE is Coming Soon.

Likelihood of director and writer claiming that this was always the intended vision for the character: High
Likelihood of anyone who’s seen the TV series keeping a straight face while watching it: Low
Likelihood of straight-to-streaming sequels with a tiny budget and none of the original cast: High

Eggbound 2: The Powdering

The Pitch: Following the unexplained success of Eggbound, a sequel was inevitable. With production set to start, no original script was available so another script was press ganged into service, with names hastily find-and-replaced to match the original, and no one really caring that it moved the franchise into a whole other genre.

Brendan McPuncherson, the world’s most inexplicably Irish accented and still egg-dependent CIA agent is on a visit to London to meet an equally inexplicable friend who happens to be a Professor of Science at the Queen’s London University of Sciences. After a scene in which McPuncherson mentions the quality of British eggs (special marketing consideration: the British Egg Marketing Board), his friend is brutally murdered by a group of vaguely Eastern European terrorists (played mainly by actors taking a few weeks off from EastEnders) who want access to ‘the Device’ created by Brendan’s friend. Brendan discovers it amidst his friend’s cluttered office in a castle, and accidentally activates it, which sends him and the chief terrorist back in time to the Blitz. Brendan finds himself hunting London both for Albert Einstein, the only man who might be able to understand the Device and send him back to his own time, and for a source of egg-based protein in a country under rationing. Meanwhile, the chief terrorist falls in with a group of upper-class Nazi sympathisers, ready to use his knowledge to overthrown Winston Churchill and let the Nazis win the war.

Can Brendan find Einstein in a world where he’s weakened by only being able to eat powdered egg that he has to specially prepare every thirty minutes? Will the plucky Cockney girl he meets be able to help him and convincingly pretend to have a sexual attraction to an aging actor while deploying an accent even Dick Van Dyke would wince at? Which actor will get the chance to don the fat suit and carry the unlit cigar to play a curiously cheerful Churchill? How many historians will die laughing when attempting to watch the film and catalogue its inaccuracies? Will the promotions department be able to resist publicising it as ‘Finally, Liam Neeson Punches Nazis!’?

The Cast:
Brendan McPuncherson: Liam Neeson
Chief Terrorist: David Tennant
Plucky Cockney Girl: Mila Kunis
Deputy Chief Terrorist: The bald one from EastEnders who’s not a Mitchell brother
Chief upper class Nazi sympathiser: Tim Pigott-Smith
Other terrorists: That one from EastEnders who used to be in Hustle, Vinnie Jones, A couple of non-speaking Polish extras looking uncomfortable
Nazi sympathising aristocrat who realises the error of her ways, then sacrifices herself to help McPuncherson escape: Someone from Downton Abbey
Albert Einstein: Mark Gatiss
Winston Churchill (and most of the budget, because someone’s got to get the money to keep the Old Vic going): Kevin Spacey

Nighthawk

Film Review: Nighthawk (no stars)

Big-screen remakes of old TV series are not uncommon, but there’s a good chance that Zack Snyder’s new film Nighthawk may just have killed them off for good, hopefully along with his career. A terrible script that’s poorly directed is one thing, but I’ve never seen one so horribly misjudged in tone, casting and everything else as this. To some, what follows may count as spoilers, but I choose to call them protectors instead, because hopefully they’ll protect you from any desire you may have to go and see this film.

It begins looking just like a horrendously-miscast version of the TV series it’s based on. It’s World War Two, somewhere in France, and café owner Rene Artois (Channing Tatum) is secretly an agent of the Resistance, working to help fugitive British airmen escape the Nazis. At the same time, he’s trying to avoid his wife (Lea Seydoux in a bad wig) and keep up his affairs with two waitresses (Kelly Brook and Keeley Hawes, neither of whom seem sure about whether they’re meant to be doing French accents). All this is happening under the noses of two inept German officers (Ray Winstone and Alexander Armstrong) and all seems set for an inept farce, especially when SS officer Herr Flick (Adam Sandler) arrives on the scene.

At this point, everything goes so bad you begin to wonder if someone has filled the cinema with hallucinogenic gas. A cackling Herr Flick guns down a field of Resistance women and the priceless painting they are carrying (incredulously referred to throughout the film as The Fallen Madonna With The Big Boobies) is soaked in their blood and things begin going to hell. Literally. Suddenly, Edith’s singing is not just bad, but has the ability to warp holes in reality, and all involved — the cafe staff, the surviving resistance, the Nazis, even an undercover British agent with an inexplicable speech impediment (Paul Bettany) — find themselves on the same side as demons swarm over the French countryside (which looks oddly Californian most of the time) and Great Old Ones prepare to rise from the inky depths.

Several insanities, rendered limbs and buckets of blood later, we reviewers had managed to get ourselves out of the cinema and wondered just what had gone so wrong with our world. At what point does everything — even ‘Allo! ‘Allo! — have to have a a grim and dark retelling in the hands of ‘Visionary Directors’? What is gained by watching Winstone slur his way through a tongue twister about how the drug in the mug and the candle with the handle on the gateau from the chateau are needed to prevent Great Cthulhu from devouring Paris?

I tell you, if Jason Statham’s Fairly Secret Army is as bad as this, I might stop going to the cinema altogether.

Saturday

Today is Saturday. So was yesterday, and tomorrow will be too. I can’t remember how long it is since they brought me here and placed me behind this mask. I only remember it was a Saturday too.

They’re all mad here, every one of them. They lock the children in cages, attempt to drown them, cover them in toxic substances and abuse them but the children just laugh and demand more, insisting that this is what they want.

They set me free on Saturdays, but I’m only free to roam this place. Is there anything outside here? There are no doors leading outside, no reports of anything happening out of here, just the madness, the screaming, the cackling of the leader as he reads the instructions to the group, telling them that whatever happens, it is what they want.

And they agree. They always agree. This is what they want.

Am I the villain because I am the only one here not insane? I prowl in my mask and the cloak they give me to wear, and they scream at me like I’m a phantom, some primordial terror from the darkness. I want to use that terror, to craft weapons that I can use to defeat them, to force them to set me free into what remains of the world outside, but all I can find is paper and foam, and that is never enough.

And today is Saturday, just like every other day, and today I will give them something they shall remember forever. Today is Saturday, they will watch and smile.

TISWAS, the first film in the ATV Cinematic Universe. Coming this summer.

Many, many things. PhD student at QMUL. Councillor. Ran the 2019 London Marathon for Brain Research UK. @nickjbarlow on Twitter.

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